NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) –– Rumors of congestion pricing’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial plan to charge people to drive into key parts of Manhattan during the week was back on the highway on Wednesday.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has discovered that officials have been secretly working on a hush-hush congestion pricing proposal for months.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the new congestion price plan
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports on Bloomberg’s proposal to charge $10 to enter Lower Manhattan
For many drivers the mayor’s congestion pricing plan was a car wreck waiting to happen — and they were happy when state lawmakers towed it away and left it in the pound.
But it’s been resurrected and nobody is happier than the author himself.
“What a clever idea. My God, how did they think of that?” Bloomberg said to some laughter on Wednesday.
Of course, it’s going through a bit of re-branding and is now being called “traffic pricing.” And the idea is to charge drivers to come into Manhattan in order to raise money for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Sources involved in the project said they hope to sell it to balky lawmakers by promising bus and subway service restoration, a possible fare rollback and no relief from payroll taxes for suburban businesses.
“I still think it makes so much sense. You want to dissuade people from driving because our streets are clogged,” Bloomberg said.
The project is so hush-hush that backers won’t say just how much they want to charge — Bloomberg originally sought $8 for cars and $21 for trucks — or where the dividing line will be. Bloomberg at first said south of 86th Street.
One thing that hasn’t changed is driver opposition.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports gets reaction
“The economy is going to get killed,” one man told WCBS 880’s Adams.
“I think that’s a bad idea. The city is so expensive to get in and out of in parking. To do that just to get into it, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Flushing resident Chaya Nisanov told Kramer.
“It’s gonna hurt the economy. I think most people aren’t going to bother coming in to the city. I wouldn’t,” added Deer Park’s Vipan Kapur.
“I don’t think it’s enforceable. I think it would be very difficult to implement,” said Ed Sullivan of Darien, Conn.
Another man said, “That would put us out of business, easily. Yeah, because of all the prices – the fuel, the tickets.”
Still another said, “In this marketplace, with the economy being the way it is, I just can’t see adding anymore burden.”
Sources told Kramer they’d like to have a traffic pricing bill before the Legislature sometime this year.
There was no word from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on whether he would support such a move. He’s taken a no-new-taxes pledge and “traffic pricing” is a new tax.